'You're lying to the jury:' Crown attacks credibility of accused in first-degree murder trial

·4 min read
Roughly 30 witnesses are scheduled to testify throughout the first-degree murder trial of Jitesh Bhogal in the death of 31-year-old Autumn Taggart. (Jason Viau/CBC  - image credit)
Roughly 30 witnesses are scheduled to testify throughout the first-degree murder trial of Jitesh Bhogal in the death of 31-year-old Autumn Taggart. (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains graphic details that some readers might find disturbing.

A Crown prosecutor took aim at the credibility of the man accused of first-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Autumn Taggart, suggesting he had lied several times about events the day she died.

Jitesh Bhogal admitted Thursday to "accidentally" killing Taggart on June 10, 2018 in her Windsor, Ont home after ingesting several lines of cocaine that he claims he was taking for the first time.

Taggart's nine-year-old son was home at the time and testified earlier that he heard his mother screaming.

"Nobody would believe me. I barely believe me." - Jitesh Bhogal

"You're lying to the jury sir about your familiarity with cocaine ... You are an exprienced cocaine user," Crown Attorney Ilana Mizel said in court Friday.

"I disagree," Bhogal replied.

Jolayne Lausch
Jolayne Lausch

The 14-member jury has heard during the trail that Bhogal crossed into Windsor from Detroit with the intention of visiting a strip club. That's where the accused said he met a man, and later a woman, who sold him the drugs.

Bhogal testified that he wanted to try some of the cocaine before purchasing the "eight ball," which is roughly 3.5 grams of cocaine.

Mizel fired back that only an experienced user would ask to test the quality of the cocaine. She also questioned his use of the term "eight ball," which Bhogal said he heard on a show.

"Mr. Bhogal ,you're lying. I'm going to suggest that you're lying about your intention about whether or not you wanted to go in a strip club," said Mizel.

Some of the Crown's questions caused the judge to pause proceedings and intervene.

Justice Renee Pomerance instructed the jury to not draw any link between the accusation that Bhogal was going to a strip club and was looking for a prostitute, and whether or not he could have committed a sexual assault.

Jolayne Lausch
Jolayne Lausch

An autopsy, previously submitted as evidence, showed signs of sexual assault on Taggart's body. At one point, Mizel asked point blank if he had sexually assaulted her.

"You had sex with Ms. Taggart," said Mizel.

"That did not happened," Bhogal said.

Mizel then suggested Bhogal was the one who inserted his fingers into the victim's vagina and anus, details that were revealed in the autopsy.

"I disagree. There was no possible way that I penetrated, as disgusting as that word is, that did not happen."

Windsor Police Service
Windsor Police Service

When Bhogal bought the "eight ball", the woman who sold it to him said she put the drugs in her "snatch", a slang term for vagina. Bhogal testified he had to drive them to an area on University Avenue West before he could get the drugs.

The location they stopped on the street was next to the victim's apartment.

Bhogal testified he's never heard of the term "snatch" before, and thought the female drug dealer meant a small pouch or coin purse, which he admits he did not see that night.

The jury has heard that the female drug dealer and another male dealer fled the vehicle when they arrived outside Taggart's apartment, taking Bhogal's money but not giving him the drugs. The Crown suggested he went to look for them and wound up in Taggart's home.

"You thought she had your drugs," Mizel suggested.

"I don't recall thinking that no," Bhogal replied.

"You searched her vagina and anus for the cocaine," Mizel said.

"That's disgusting. I disagree," said Bhogal.

Bhogal did admit that he doesn't remember a lot about what happened in Taggart's room.

One thing he said he does recall is performing CPR on Taggart after she stopped screaming. He previously testified he recalls counting five or six ribs down before beginning CPR and that he did 15 compressions along with three breaths, the court heard.

"But you want this jury to believe that you don't remember what happened seconds before you did that," said Mizel.

Mizel also asked why he didn't call 9-1-1 and he said he was "afraid of prosecution."

"Nobody would believe me. I barely believe me," Bhogal testified.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting